Tempest

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tempest



The Tempest register is a section of the Reliant Kitten Register catering for Tempests and Vantiques. These delightful cars are based on Reliant Fox or Kitten chassis and mechanical parts If you own a Tempest of Vantique or have information about one please contact the registrar. Tempest kits are still available so if you fancy building one contact Tempest Cars.

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Tempest Cars

Brief History

Ian Foster had the idea of producing an "all new" kit that could be registered as a new vehicle. This resulted in the mid 1980’s in him and John Box designing the Tempest sports two-seater. John Box had been chief engineer at TVR and was subsequently a consultant to Reliant, and hence in a position to liaise for components. Ian Foster was best known for his Teal Bugatti lookalike. He was also John's wife's cousin. Ian died in 2005.

 The Tempest was conceived as a lightweight classic style roadster. The basis of the car was a 100% new galvanised steel chassis (Fox chassis) fitted with the Reliant 848cc o.h.v. engine, four-speed gearbox, double wishbone front suspension, semi elliptical leaf spring and live axle rear suspension. Reliant also supplied every other mechanical item plus the instruments and heater. The bodywork was a combination of fibreglass mouldings and aluminium over a steel frame.

 The prototype was built in 1987 and the first production car produced in 1988. The original factory built cars were supplied 85% finished with every component needed for completion included. John Box owned Thoroughbred Projects in Burton-in-Kendal whereas Ian Foster owned Trafford Brake Services in Burscough and the building work was split between the two. The address for Tempest Cars as given on a sales leaflet was 84 Ramsbottom Road, Hawkshaw, Bury, presumably Ian's home just used as a registered office. Thirteen cars were produced including one that was chassis and floor pan only, the Tempest 95 and, some time later, the Raptor (it was not completed till 2010/11, by then being the last Reliant built on a new chassis).In 1988 the price was 4,350 + VAT with hood and side screens extra.

 Eight kits were also sold so that prospective owners could assemble their own car on a donor Fox or Kitten. Two others were built after production finished by Dave Smith and Dave Price, who were loaned the jigs by John Box before the business was eventually sold to Steve Campbell in 2000. When Reliant got into difficulties and went into receivership the supply of new parts dried up so that only kit conversions of Fox or Kittens could be built, an option Ian Foster had no interest in.

 In February 1991 John Box quoted 2,098.75 including VAT for a kit (to allow the purchaser to convert their Fox or Kitten donor vehicle into a Tempest) which included hood and side screens, but a lighting set was 134.55 extra.

 The Tempest has earned an impressive pedigree of competition successes in trials. The initial successes were achieved by Robert Porter who bought the prototype, and followed up by several people to whom the TT (Trials Trophy) demonstrator was lent, including Robin Jager a former BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Drivers Association) trials champion. Successes included a class win in the 2000 Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs Trials Championship, and a third in the RACMSA National Championship the same year by Jack Williams of Rougham. In recent years the trials regulations have legislated against Tempest and now they are rarely seen at events.

 The rights to this fine vehicle were acquired in 2000 by Stephen Campbell, of Sportsman Ltd in Birkenhead who intended to re-launch it early in 2001. He made some changes (replacing the aluminium floor pan with a fibreglass version amongst other changes) and sold a few kits but the number is not known. The project then passed to Mike Phillips in Bisley (an ex Rolls Royce engineer) in 2003, the deal being that he would pay in commission on kits sold. Family health problems were probably responsible for no kits being produced and the project reverted to Steve Campbell in 2005.

 Tempest Cars was then acquired by John Melody in 2006, and the car went back into production at Pilling, Preston. A number of upgrades were made including a conversion to disk brakes at the front. Despite considerable effort in attending shows, only very few were sold. During his ownership he acquired several Foxes, and provided body spares to people needing them. He also refurbished the Reliant factory owned Vantique; during the refurbishment it was fitted with an engine built by John Box.

 John Melody advised that a Fox was a better donor for a Tempest than a Kitten for a number of reasons:

It has a galvanised chassis and it is therefore almost certainly going to be in excellent condition.

The back axles ratio was 4:1 which enables larger diameter wheels to be used. The back axle ratio of the Kitten was 3.2 :1 which is too high to run anything other than 12" wheels. However, he could supply a 5:1 replacement diff.

The steering column and pedals require little modification.

 In 2011 the business was sold again, this time to Joe Mason of Second Hand Reliant Spares in Cradley near Worcester.

 The history of a Tempest Owners Club or Register is a bit vague. Mike Furze was running a club in 1994 and compiled a database of owners. They had a club pitch at Stoneleigh in 1994 and 95 but it seems that it did not continue. The Reliant Kitten Register, which includes Tempests, was started by Brian Marshall in 1991, but apparently Mike Furze was not a subscriber. At some point, Joe Boulderstone-Salthouse became registrar until he sold his car in 2003/4.  Roger Brown took over from Martin Seymour as registrar of the Tempest section in 2012.

 John Box had other strings to his bow, and during the Tempest’s time in production he was developing and building the 1930’s looking Vantique. As the name implies, it is a van. The prototype was first on the road on 1st Nov.1989, and the last of just 11 built was completed a decade later. In fact the first 10 were complete by 1993, the last one taking a little longer to finish! Vantiques incorporated the only 4 Fox chassis built by Beans after they took over Reliant.  Bean had been a vehicle manufacturer in their early days; an owners club exists to this day. Indeed, Bean built the Thunderbolt which held the world land speed record a couple of times between 1937 and 1939 in their works at Tipton, so they were no strangers to vehicle production.  They were the supplier of gearboxes and axles to Reliant for many years before Reliant finally failed in 1995.  The Bean take over was essentially a way of them hoping to recoup some of their losses, but sadly Bean themselves were bought out by a foreign firm with no interest in vehicle production.

Thanks to Brian Marshall and Roger Brown for compiling this brief history and to John Box for providing information.


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